Question:

Who was the greatest running back to play on the Detroit Lions?

Answer:

Barry Sanders is regarded as one of the greatest running backs of his time. He was the first player to rush for 1,000 yards in his first 10 seasons, and became NFL's MVP in 1997.

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The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league composed of 32 teams divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The highest level of professional football in the world, the NFL runs a 17-week regular season from the week after Labor Day to the week after Christmas, with each team playing sixteen games and having one bye week. Out of the league's 32 teams, six (four division winners and two wild-card teams) from each conference compete in the NFL playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, played between the champions of the NFC and AFC. The champions of the Super Bowl are awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy; various other awards exist to recognize individual players and coaches. Most games are played on Sunday afternoons; some games are also played on Mondays and Thursdays during the regular season. There are games on Saturdays during the last few weeks of the regular season and the first two playoff weekends.

The NFL was formed on August 20, 1920, as the American Professional Football Conference; the league changed its name to the American Professional Football Association (APFA) on September 17, 1920, and changed its name to the National Football League on June 24, 1922, after spending the 1920 and 1921 seasons as the APFA. In 1966, the NFL agreed to merge with the rival American Football League (AFL), effective 1970; the first Super Bowl was held at the end of that same season in January 1967. Today, the NFL has the highest average attendance (67,591) of any professional sports league in the world and is the most popular sports league in the United States. The Super Bowl is among the biggest club sporting events in the world and individual Super Bowl games account for many of the most-watched programs in American history. At the corporate level, the NFL is an nonprofit 501(c)(6) association. The NFL's executive officer is the commissioner, who has broad authority in governing the league.

Barry Sanders (born July 16, 1968) is a former American football running back who spent his entire professional career with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. A member of both the college and professional football halls of fame, he was ranked by NFL Top 10 as the most elusive runner in NFL history, and also topped their list of greatest players never to reach the Super Bowl. Averaging over 1,500 rushing yards per season, Sanders left the game just 1,457 yards short of being first place on the list for the NFL all-time rushing record at that time.

National Football League (1930–present)

                   

NFL

A running back (RB) is an American and Canadian football position, a member of the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block. There are usually one or two running backs on the field for a given play, depending on the offensive formation. A running back may be a halfback (in certain contexts also referred to as a tailback) or a fullback.

The halfback (HB) or tailback (TB) position is recognized as one of the more glamorous positions on the field, as it is often integral in both the passing and running attack. He is responsible for carrying the ball on the majority of running plays, and may frequently be used as a receiver on short passing plays. In today's game, an effective halfback must have a superior blend of both quickness and agility as a runner, as well as sure hands and shrewd vision upfield as a receiver. More and more quarterbacks depend on halfbacks as a safety valve receiver when primary targets downfield are covered or when they are under pressure. Occasionally, they line up as additional wide receivers. When not serving either of these functions, the primary responsibility of a halfback is to aid the offensive linemen in blocking, either to protect the quarterback or another player carrying the football. As a trick play, running backs are occasionally used to pass the ball on a halfback option play or halfback pass.

Barry Sanders (born July 16, 1968) is a former American football running back who spent his entire professional career with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. A member of both the college and professional football halls of fame, he was ranked by NFL Top 10 as the most elusive runner in NFL history, and also topped their list of greatest players never to reach the Super Bowl. Averaging over 1,500 rushing yards per season, Sanders left the game just 1,457 yards short of being first place on the list for the NFL all-time rushing record at that time.

"The Greatest Show on Turf" was the nickname for the St. Louis Rams' record-breaking offense during the 1999, 2000, and 2001 National Football League seasons. The offense was designed by attack oriented offensive coordinator Mike Martz who advocated mixing both an aerial attack and run offense. The Rams' offense during these three seasons produced a largess of scoring, accrued yardage, three NFL MVP honors, and one Super Bowl title for the 1999 season.

The offense was attuned to getting all five receivers out into patterns that stretched the field, setting up defensive backs with route technique, and the quarterback delivering to a spot on time where the receiver could make the catch and turn upfield. Frequent pre-snap motion and shifting were staples of the system, often including shifts to or from empty backfield formations or bunch formations. Pass protection was critical to its success. At least two of the five receivers would run a deep in, skinny post, comeback, speed out, or shallow cross pattern, and running backs would often run quick rail routes out of the backfield. Screens, draws, and play action passes were often used to slow the opponent's pass rush. Mike Martz credits the offensive system as being originally catalyzed by Sid Gillman and then refined at San Diego State by Don Coryell, who later transmitted his system to the NFL. Martz learned the Coryell 3-digit system from offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese when both coached for the Rams under Chuck Knox from 1994-96. Using this offense, the Rams set a new NFL record for total offensive yards in 2000, with an astonishing 7,335 yards (since broken by the New Orleans Saints with 7,474). Of those, 5,492 were passing yards, also a new NFL team record.

Emmitt James Smith, III (born May 15, 1969) is a retired American football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for fifteen seasons during the 1990s and 2000s. Considered one of the greatest and the single most complete running back in NFL history, Smith played college football for the University of Florida, where he was an All-American. A first-round pick in the 1990 NFL Draft, he played professionally for the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals of the NFL.

During his long professional career, he became the NFL's all-time rushing leader, breaking the record formerly held by Walter Payton, and played for three Super Bowl-winning Dallas Cowboys teams. Smith is the only running back to ever win a Super Bowl championship, the NFL Most Valuable Player award, the NFL rushing crown, and the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award all in the same season (1993). He is also one of only four running backs to lead the NFL in rushing three or more consecutive seasons, joining Steve Van Buren, Jim Brown and Earl Campbell. Smith led the league in rushing and won the Super Bowl in the same year three times (1992, 1993, and 1995) when to that point it had never been done. Smith is also one of only two non-kickers in NFL history to score more than 1,000 career points (the other being Jerry Rice). Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, and is the first player from the 1990 NFL Draft to be inducted.

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league composed of 32 teams divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The highest level of professional football in the world, the NFL runs a 17-week regular season from the week after Labor Day to the week after Christmas, with each team playing sixteen games and having one bye week. Out of the league's 32 teams, six (four division winners and two wild-card teams) from each conference compete in the NFL playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, played between the champions of the NFC and AFC. The champions of the Super Bowl are awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy; various other awards exist to recognize individual players and coaches. Most games are played on Sunday afternoons; some games are also played on Mondays and Thursdays during the regular season. There are games on Saturdays during the last few weeks of the regular season and the first two playoff weekends.

The NFL was formed on August 20, 1920, as the American Professional Football Conference; the league changed its name to the American Professional Football Association (APFA) on September 17, 1920, and changed its name to the National Football League on June 24, 1922, after spending the 1920 and 1921 seasons as the APFA. In 1966, the NFL agreed to merge with the rival American Football League (AFL), effective 1970; the first Super Bowl was held at the end of that same season in January 1967. Today, the NFL has the highest average attendance (67,591) of any professional sports league in the world and is the most popular sports league in the United States. The Super Bowl is among the biggest club sporting events in the world and individual Super Bowl games account for many of the most-watched programs in American history. At the corporate level, the NFL is an nonprofit 501(c)(6) association. The NFL's executive officer is the commissioner, who has broad authority in governing the league.

American football (known as football in the United States and gridiron in some other countries) is a sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field 120 yards long by 53.33 yards wide with goalposts at each end. The offense attempts to advance an oval ball (the football) down the field by running with or passing it. They must advance it at least ten yards in four downs to receive a new set of four downs and continue the drive; if not, they turn over the football to the opposing team. Points are scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown, kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal or by the defense tackling the ball carrier in the offense's end zone for a safety. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

American football evolved in the United States, originating from the sport of rugby football. The first game of American football was played on November 6, 1869 between two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton, under rules resembling rugby and soccer. A set of rule changes drawn up from 1880 onward by Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football", established the snap, eleven-player teams and the concept of downs, and later rule changes legalized the forward pass, created the neutral zone and specified the size and shape of the football.

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